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Version 6.3
Introduction

In line with previous Platform installers, 6.3 is a cumulative release that contains all enhancements and fixes from previous Platform releases and service packs.

Note Note

Driver and application developers: In order to maintain a healthy code base, some tidying up is planned for the the next major update and details of the changes are given in the Deprecated Features section below. Please will you review this and update your applications and drivers as advised; these changes are not scheduled for introduction until Q1 2017 at the earliest. In the meantime service packs will be issued as required to correct bugs.

Platform Prerequisites

Platform 6.3 requires the following .NET framework version and library:

  • .NET Framework 4 Client or .NET Framework 4 Full Installation or later
  • For WIndows 8 and later the .NET Framework 3.5 option must be enabled in Control Panel / Programs and Features / Turn Windows Features On and Off
  • Visual C++ 10.0 libraries

While previous Platforms required .NET Framework 3.5, Platform 6.3 requires that .NET Framework 4 or later is installed on your PC. Framework 4 has been available for a number of years and is provided for all operating systems that the Platform supports (Windows XP onwards). This change is to enable Platform components to take advantage of the new features that Framework 4 provides.

The installer will advise you if your PC does not have the required support and will request that you install it before continuing with the installation. The framework can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Centre please check under "Popular Downloads - Developer Tools" if Framework 4 is not otherwise listed.

The Platform also requires Visual C++ 10.0 libraries and the installer will provide these if they are not already present on your PC.

Key Changes in 6.3 - For Everyone
  • Support has been added for the December 30th 2016 leap second.
  • DeltaT prediction modelling has been updated with the latest USNO data, which is considered good to 2019.
  • Messaging has been improved in the Developer Components installer to provide better advice to everyone if installation is attempted before the Platform itself has been installed.
  • OpenWeatherMap
    • The OpenWeatherMap driver now calculates pressure at ground level from the supplied pressure, which is assumed to be at the location's altitude.
    • Globalisation support is improved.
Key Changes in 6.3 - For Developers
  • SOFA - 32 and 64bit libraries have been upleveled to version 12c, which was released on 23rd December 2016.
  • ObservingConditions Driver Template - Make tests for property names case insensitive.
  • Driver Templates - Now include a more flexible logging example.
  • Installer Generator - Generated installers now require Platform 6.2 by default.
  • Template Wizard - Now Uplevelled to v6.2.
  • The Dome interface documentation now describes how to support a roll off roof through the interface.
  • The Camera documentation has been updated to explicitly state that Camera.LastExposureStartTime must be expressed as a UTC time.
Issues Fixed - Platform
  • The Platform installer now operates correctly on PCs running fresh Windows 10 Anniversary edition installs.
  • Diagnostics no longer flags issues with the ObservingConditions hub if this has never been configured.
  • ObservingConditions Hub and Simulator profile reads and writes are now culture invariant so that they will work correctly in locates where "," is the decimal separator.
  • Improved file cleanup when Platforms are uninstalled or upgraded.
  • The Foucser simulator now implements CanStepSize and TempCompAvailble correctly and international support has been improved.
Issues Fixed - Developers
  • ObservingConditions Driver Template - AveragePeriod now throws the correct ASCOM exception if an invalid value is set.
Known Limitations - Developers
  • The components in the Astrometry.NOVAS namespace are fully usable from .NET languages but are not fully accessible through COM from scripting languages because a number of parameters are passed by reference or use structures that do not pass across the COM interface. Two work rounds are available:
    1. Use the Transform component in the ASCOM.Astrometry.Transform namespace, it is fully COM compatible.
    2. Create your own COM presentation component that encapsulates the SOFA or NOVAS 3.1 functions that you require and presents them in a COM compatible fashion to suit your needs. This component can them be consumed by your scripting application.
Breaking Changes (For Developers)
  • None.
Deprecated Capabilites (For Developers)
  • The ASCOM.Astrometry namespace of the Platform has become overcrowded with components that have similar capabilities but that differ in small ways from each other (e.g. NOVAS2, NOVAS2COM, NOVAS3, NOVAS3.1). The recent realisation that some NOVAS routines use iterative algorithms that can fail, when in very close proximity to the poles, led to a search for an alternative and the SOFA Library was found to be an actively maintained and authoritative choice.

    The addition of a SOFA component brings the number of high precision astronomy libraries distributed within the Platform to 8! To reduce the maintenance burden, SOFA will become the primary high precision library for astronomical computing distributed with the ASCOM Platform and dependence of Platform components on NOVAS will be removed. However, the NOVAS routines provide functionality that is not present in SOFA e.g. major and minor planet ephemerides and consequently the NOVAS 3.1 component will continue to be distributed with the Platform.

    The following NOVAS components will be removed from the Platform installer at the next major update and moved into a separate installer:

    • Kepler
    • NOVASCOM
    • NOVAS2
    • NOVAS2COM
    • NOVAS3
  • The following VB6 based simulators will be removed from the Platform at the next major update. These drivers were moved to a "bug-fix only" maintenance mode when Platform 6 was released and are becoming increasingly out of step with their .NET counterparts, which are fully integrated into the Platform code base.

    Simulator

    ProgID

    Replacement

    Camera Simulator

    CCDSimulator.Camera

    Replace use of the CCDSimulator.Camera ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Camera, which will invoke the "Camera V2 simulator

    Dome Simulator

    DomeSim.Telescope

    Replace use of the DomeSim.Telescope ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Dome, which will invoke the "Dome Simulator .NET" driver.

    Filter Wheel Simulator

    FilterWheelSim.FilterWheel

    Replace use of the FilterWheelSim.FilterWheel ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.FilterWheel, which will invoke the "Filter Wheel Simulator [.NET]" driver.

    Focuser Simulator

    FocuserSim.Focuser

    Replace use of the FocuserSim.Focuser ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Focuser, which will invoke the "ASCOM Simulator Focuser Driver" driver.

    Switch Simulator

    SwitchSim.Switch

    Replace use of the SwitchSim.Switch ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Switch, which will invoke the "ASCOM SwitchV2 Simulator Driver" driver.

    Telescope Simulator

    ScopeSim.Telescope

    Replace use of the ScopeSim.Telescope ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Telescope, which will invoke the "Telescope Simulator for .NET" driver.